Wednesday 13 May 2015

Summer 2015 (Ads)

This is Ads' summer routine. 

6 am: Up from bed
6.40 am: In the car, munching at breakfast. Granddad has cricket coaching chaperoning duty!
10 am: Return home. Swallow some coconut water/juice. Go down to play. Cricket, what else. 
12 noon: Back home. If lucky, he hasn't been yelled at by me for coming back late/not wearing a cap etc etc.
1 pm: Bath and lunch over. Fight with sister also accomplished. Amma nags incessantly to take a nap. Fed up, he retreats to his room. Half an hour later, he's either fast asleep or tossing and turning. 
3 pm: Milk and almonds/fruit time. Now he starts nagging Amma. When can I go down to play? 
3.30 -4.30 pm: Phone calls incoming & outgoing, making plans with friends on where and when to meet.
4.30 pm: The boy disappears and we don't see him until 7 pm.
7-8 pm: Bath, dinner, fight with sister!
8 pm: IPL time!:
9 pm: Bed

Supremely physically active to the extent that we sometimes ask him to cut back on the cricket. I have suggested he go swimming with friends to break the monotony, but he says - what monotony???? So we have let him be. After much persuasion, he has picked up his first Harry Potter and seems to be enjoying it.
I think he's happy :) 

Tuesday 12 May 2015

Arabian nights (& days) - Part 2

Dubai's Miracle Garden was a lot of fun, and it really is a miracle! Flowers blooming in profusion everywhere were lovely to behold.

Shades of Holland?

Which gal wouldn't love a castle like this?
An offbeat and excellent suggestion by a friend, to attend a traditional Arab breakfast in the old quarter of Dubai, turned out to be the highlight of the trip for me. Hosted in an early 20th Century "wind tower" house in the historic district of Al-Bastakiya, it was a heady medley of coffee, conversation and culture! A young Emirati girl hosted us and answered questions on Arab (specifically Emirati) culture, food and dress habits, and Islam. The food was yummy too and the three of us (S, Y & I) stuffed our faces.
Wind tower House

We also did the mandatory dune-bashing and desert safari the same evening. The dune-bashing was a different experience but the Thar desert safari was as nice as the Arabian nothing new there. Y thoroughly enjoyed the belly dancing and was almost up there on the stage with the dancer :)
We spent one morning at the Atlantis hotel/Palm Jumeirah to tick off another Dubai must-do. We never got down to much shopping (you get everything in India!) except for a few keepsakes and gifts. S and I salivated to see the huge variety of excellent-quality dry fruits on offer and stocked up.......yes we go bonkers over raisins and apricots, not over gold :)
The Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi was a pit stop on our way to the airport. It manages to be both immense and beautiful. How many monuments can say that?
So, inspite of all my reservations, we did enjoy Dubai - a LOT. Staying with extremely hospitable friends who went out of their way to show us a different side to the city made all the difference. The kids stayed happy with plenty of company and having all the home comforts let us relax even at the end of a long day. One of our best holidays. The only regret - we didn't get to do a day trip to Oman which we were very eager to do. I am now hooked on Arab culture and cuisine and cannot wait to explore more authentic locales!

Arabian nights (& days) - Part 1

Dubai was hardly anywhere near the top of my must-travel-to places. I assumed we would visit it (briefly) sometime, enroute to somewhere else. Come on, Dubai is all glitz and glamour and artificiality - all the stuff that I run miles from!! I remember visiting it when I was about 8-9 years old to see my grandparents who were living there then and I had a fantastic time. I remember the milk being really thick and creamy (yum!), and living in air-conditioned surroundings all through the day was a luxury and novelty :)
This summer, not having much leave and forced to look at destinations that were a quick flight away, S suggested Dubai as an option as he had air miles that he could redeem. Free tickets are always good so I quickly got in touch with a couple of B-school batchmates who lived there and who kindly invited us to stay. Free flights and free stay! Wow. Dubai immediately began to look more enticing :)
Inexhaustible planner that I am, I started shooting mails to our friends discussing our itinerary. Being very spontaneous and last-minute sort of people, they were most amused and I had to endure some good-natured ribbing on my advance planning :) We flew to Abu Dhabi one morning and immediately ran into the most disorganized chaotic airport and immigration process we have ever experienced. Hungry, tired and more than a little sleepy, we kept the kids amused while waiting interminably in a long line. Finally we cleared immigration and met our friend who was waiting to receive us and drive us to his home in Dubai. It turned out that we had landed in the middle of a sandstorm. Our friend gamely pointed out all the sights as we drove by, though we couldn't see a thing ahead or on each side of us!! I was personally quite thrilled to see a genuine Arabian sandstorm while safely inside the car :)
That evening, we walked through the Gold Souk - full of every design and ornament, beautiful and ghastly, that the hands of man can craft from the yellow metal. Fortunately I don't care for gold at all else our purses would have been significantly lighter. This ring and the gold ATM took my breath away!

A ferry ride on the Dubai creek and a fantastic Lebanese meal later, we were back home & happy to hit the sack at the end of a long long day.
The high points of the next couple of days were the Global Village, which is a kind of Dilli Haat but only 50 times larger and having craft and food stalls of what looked like almost all the countries of the world. We only managed to peek over the goodies in Iran, Pakistan and Lebanon before it was time to leave. The Dubai Mall is the world's largest mall, not that you can really tell because I wasn't going to go walk through every square feet of it! It looked much like any other mall, only a lot cleaner and shinier than most Indian malls, and of course with a massive variety of brands and products on offer. We went to the top of the Burj Khalifa to get a birds'-eye view of the city. From that high up, the scale of this country's achievement- creating a fairyland out of wasteland and arid desert - becomes palpably obvious. All thanks to the black gold lying in abundance under all that sand and sea.
A couple of things that rankled me throughout our stay in Dubai was the excessive use and wastage of power and every other resource. Three rows of street lamps spaced no more than 500 metres apart on every road and highway, each lamp-post topped with several lamps aglow, are completely unnecessary. Recycling- whazzat? Lights and air conditioning are on everywhere all the time. Even 9-year old Ads was aghast at the over-consumption and waste of natural resources.  
More adventures and observations coming up in Part 2!

Monday 11 May 2015

Mother's Day

A day prior to Mother’s Day, there was a lot of shushing and secret goings-on in the kids’ room. Only since no one in this family has a clue as to where anything is, they had to come ask me for supplies. Paper. Glue. Scissors because one would not share hers with her sibling. Then sketch pens because again, they wouldn’t share. As if that wasn't enough to put two and two together, they came up and asked me for two copies of my passport and “Amma, your photo should be on it, okay?”
In between, a huge fight erupted. We heard screaming and tears. I was prevented from intervening by the husband. You aren't supposed to see what they’re doing – he hissed.
Finally, what I received on Mother’s Day was a couple of very cute cards (with my Xerox passport photo pasted on them!), a painted Nutella bottle with I love Mom written on it and containing 2 finger rings made with loom bands, and a “pen stand” pasted over with coloured printed paper. Apparently the pen stand was the bone of contention, because Ads had appropriated Y’s and given her a pen (that didn’t write) in return!

More importantly, I got lots and lots of hugs and kisses on this special day. As much as I scoff at Mothers, Fathers, Grandparents’ and all the other days as yet another marketing stunt, I won’t deny that all those extra cuddles did make me feel very special. Even moms need validation every now and then!